Planning - a lifeline for our hospitality sector? David Jones of Evans Jones
Relaxation to the planning rules have provided a lifeline for many of our favourite pubs, restaurants and cafes struggling to survive in the midst of the global pandemic.
We have seen incredible innovation and flexibility, with businesses transforming themselves almost overnight and adapting their offering to provide takeaway, click and collect and delivery services.
Previously the law would have restricted pubs and restaurants from offering only food takeaway services, without going through a planning application process - but the emergency measures were introduced in March at the start of the pandemic as a temporary measure which was initially scheduled to end on 31 March 2021.
However, in recent changes announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the temporary measure has now been extended by another year until 31 March 2022. This also applies to temporary structures for the hosting of markets, fairs and car boot sales and other outdoor events, which will now be available up until 31 December 2021.
As we emerge from Lockdown 2.0 and with restrictions still in place across the country, the extension will provide a level of certainty for hospitality businesses that they can continue to operate whilst they are unable to open their doors for sit-down trade.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: "We've taken decisive action since the beginning of the pandemic to support our pubs, restaurants, cafes and markets. Making it easier for them to provide takeaways has helped these businesses to adapt and helped sustain many through an unbelievably difficult year.
That's why I am extending these simple but effective reforms to support these businesses - helping give them and their employees more certainty over the coming year. It will also be a boost for their customers who can now look forward to continuing to enjoy meals at home from their favourite restaurants. As these reforms have made such a difference, I will be considering making them permanent."
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality said: "The ability to provide takeaway services was a valuable lifeline for many hospitality venues, not just during the lockdown but in the days of reduced and restricted trade, too.
The extension will undoubtedly help many. For pubs, restaurants and cafes to operate as takeaways gives them a previously untapped revenue stream and a much better chance to survive what will be a tough winter. It will help avoid waste and allow businesses to retain a valuable link with their customers and communities."
There is no doubt that there is still a difficult path ahead for our hospitality sector, but the extension to the changes are to be supported. They will provide a greater degree of flexibility and support for many of those businesses which have been hardest hit during the current lockdown and potential future restrictions. It will allow businesses to continue responding positively and adapting their operating methods and erecting temporary structures to increase capacity whilst maintaining social distancing.
Sadly it may not be enough to save all of our hospitality businesses and confidence in the sector remains low - according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), more than a third of hospitality firms say they have little or no confidence of surviving the next three months.
But at does at least give some degree of stability and as we continue to rally to support our favourite local pubs, restaurants and cafes, we all hope to see them emerge from the other side of the pandemic wearing their battle scars, but nevertheless having survived the war.
For more information and advice, or to find out about the services Evans Jones can provide for your business, call 0800 0014 090 or visit www.evansjones.co.uk.
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